Autistic Spectrum Disorder is extremely common in children. It’s estimated that around 1 in 160 children is somewhere on the autistic spectrum. When you’re raising a child with autism, you understand that social interaction is extremely important for their development. It gives them experience coping in social situations and gives them much-needed experience in getting to understand the nuances of facial expression, body language and tone of voice that many of us decode so efficiently that we take it for granted. It also allows them to get to grips with the social codes and contracts that we enter into in our daily lives without thinking twice.
Nonetheless, when it comes to birthday parties, parents of autistic children can be understandably reticent. The last thing they want is to inadvertently cause their child upset or distress when celebrating their birthday. Nonetheless, with a little sensitivity and planning (two things that, let’s face it, all parents have in abundance), it’s perfectly possible to plan the perfect autism friendly birthday party.
Settle on a theme they’ll love
Having a familiar theme is a great idea for virtually any kids’ birthday party but it can be especially helpful for autistic kids. You can base it around their favourite superhero or their favourite sport or whatever else they’re passionate about. This will lend the occasion a sense of familiarity but also a sense of personal resonance and investment that will make them more likely to have a good time even when things can feel a little overwhelming.
Keep the location familiar
It’s rarely a great idea to introduce a child with ASD to a new location for their birthday party. The sensory overload can be a bit much for them and detract from the experience. You may want to consider inviting Monsterball Amusement & Hire to set up a bouncy castle in your back yard or transform your living room into the Batcave. If, however, you’re worried that they’ll be tempted to hide away in their room if you have the party at home, an alternative location like a familiar restaurant, museum or bowling alley is a great way to put them at ease.
Invite guests that “get it”
Autism can be a difficult subject to broach for some, especially kids who have yet to develop the emotional maturity to muster the patience and empathy that kids with ASD tend to require. As such, your guest list will go a long way towards taking the stress out of the occasion. By inviting people that know your child and understand their condition you reduce the risk of misunderstandings and altercations.
Think very carefully about the treats you serve
Every child deserves delicious treats on their birthday… Just think carefully about the quantity and sugar content of the treats you serve. Sugar is pure energy and when kids get too much of it… Well, if you’re a parent you likely don’t need us to explain how difficult it can be tio bring down a child in the midst of a sugar rush. Sugar and other stimulants like the caffeine and artificial sweeteners found in many soft drinks can cause children to behave in an overly excitable and energetic manner which could cause distress for a child with ASD.
Still, with proper planning it’s relatively easy to plan a birthday party for an autistic child that’s fun for them and stress-free for you!
This is a collaborative post.